Members from a total of 400 households along with staff and patients of Nyarurama Health Center in Nyarurama village, Ntongwe sector in Ruhango District on Friday 23 were celebrating as they all got connected to the national power grid by the Rwanda Energy Group (REG).
For so long, the health center had been relying on solar power which they abandoned some time back and turned to using generators, making it expensive to generate electricity 24/7. REG is expending much effort and resources to connect health centers, schools, trading centers, local government offices and households not only in Ruhango District but throughout the entire 400 Ruhango households connected to national power grid REG technicians in Nyarurama trading center connecting residents to the national grid Ruhumuriza Eric , a resident of Rwinama village in Nyarurama sector, who runs a small cinema hall Nyarurama village, Ntongwe sector in Ruhango District.
The Director of Nyarurama Health Center Israel Hagenimana told The New Times that lack of electricity was hampering with the efficient provision of services to patients at the health center. "We are moved beyond words now that we have been given electricity. The generator was costing the health center a lot of money to buy diesel to keep it running for hours on a daily basis," said Hagenimana. According to the director, the health center was spending over Rwf 20,000 on diesel every day to keep the generator running which would translate into Rwf 600, 00o per month which was straining their budget.
"We had to constantly have the generator running though at times it would break down and we would find it hard to work under darkness; imagine using candles as source of light while attending to mothers in labor, it was a big inconvenience," Hagenimana said.
He explained that before, it was not possible to have other necessary equipment like ultrasound monitors, refrigerators, sterilization equipment because they required electricity to operate. However with the connection to the electricity grid, the health center is to acquire all the necessary equipment. "With solar power and generators, it was not easy to have some basic equipment installed but now that we have electricity, we are going to save more money and acquire more equipment in order to offer better services to our patients," he added.
Other traders in Nyarurama center said that they have been waiting for this day and are so excited to be connected to the national grid. Ruhumuriza Eric a resident of Rwinama village in Nyarurama sector who runs a small film hall, and the only one showing football matches from a DSTV dish in the trading center, says that he is going to expand his business now that they have been connected to the national grid. "I am going to get a bigger screen and a bigger place to expand my business and use better devices now that electricity is available" says Ruhumuriza.
The REG branch manager in Ruhango District Jean de Dieu Nyiringango says that the connection of Nyarurama center is part of a bigger project which will soon connect more households to the national grid in the district. "The project aims at connecting 4,200 households in three sectors of Ntongwe, Kinazi and Bweramana. This is in a bid to achieve the 100% access target by 2024. Currently, in Ruhango District, we are at 40%," said Nyirigango. Information from REG indicates that the number of households accessing electricity in Rwanda has increased from 10% in 2010 to 42% in 2017. Among the 42% accessing to electricity, 31% of the households are connected to the national grid while 11% are accessing through off-grid solutions, mainly solar energy.